A major influencer of our happiness is the identity we build and project. The bottom line is this:
The less seriously we take our identity, the happier we are going to be.
I am not suggesting we should have no ego. I think a healthy sense of who we are and what we stand for is essential for a happy and fulfilling life.
Our sense of identity can only become a source of frustration when we: 1) equate it with who we are or 2) treat it as something fixed.
1) Your ego or sense of identity is something you have not something you are. It was constructed by you, lives thanks to your investment in it, and can be changed by you. You can see it as a part of who you are but don't take it for the whole.
You are not: what you have, what you do, what you think, what others think of you, your past, your problems, you get the idea.
Here is a good rule of thumb:
If it follows 'I am', it is not you.
2) Your ego or sense of identity is constantly changing. Every single one of your thoughts, emotions, and acts shape it continually. Be the flowing water and embrace change. Don't try to be the rock because the water will slowly wear you down.
Here are a few suggestions that can help you to be pro-active in shaping your identity. These can also help you embrace a sense of self that is empowering you rather than hindering you.
What roles did you see growing up and consciously or unconsciously picked along the way? e.g. from caretakers, from your peers
What roles did you embrace later on as an adolescent? Were you the best in class, the misfit, the rebel, the black sheep, the heart of the company etc. Are you still holding onto any of these roles? Are they still valid?
What are my current roles? e.g. an employee, a mother/father, a wife/husband, the one who takes one for the team, the good son/daughter, the leader, the outsider...
Next, ask yourself:
What roles do not serve you that you would like to release?
What roles do serve you that you would like to continue in your life?
Answering questions about ourselves in writing is an excellent way to gain self-awareness and reclaim identity control.
As a bonus, here are some common detrimental self-identifications to avoid:
If you notice any of these as a subtle tendency or a solid part of who you are challenge them immediately. Consider the ways in which these hinder your own growth and drag down the people around you.
Here are five success identities you can embrace instead:
How can you increase your identification with these qualities? What actions do you take or can you take right now to be the living example of these?
What other success identities will you choose to embrace and embody?
The opportunity is right in front of you, the choice is yours. Master your Super Power.
The value of happiness
Happiness influencers: Desires
Happiness influencers: Beliefs
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